Since this year’s Halloween falls on a Tuesday, Austin Police Department will not issue its No Refusal initiative this upcoming Halloweekend, unlike in past years.
No Refusal is a policy that allows police units to request breath or blood samples from suspected DWI motorists during holiday weekends, and any refusal to comply can result in a judge-issued search warrant to obtain the sample. Coincidentally, the policy was first implemented on Oct. 31, 2007.
APD has decided to issue the initiative only on the day of Halloween, Oct. 31, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
APD detective Richard Mabe said there are some common misconceptions regarding DWI arrests and UT students.
“A lot of people think UT students are the problem on the weekends,” Mabe said. “We teach throughout the state in DWI programs, and I’ll be the first to tell you, UT students are not the majority of DWI arrests. The majority comes from the group of 25- to 45-year-olds.”
UT students have usually been good at avoiding impaired driving on holiday weekends because of the availability of alternative transportation methods, Mabe said.
“I think UT has a great partnership with CapMetro and the UT (Shuttle) System,” Mabe said. “The students do a pretty good job at transporting themselves to downtown.”
West Campus is not an area of special concern during Halloweekend, despite the area’s concentrated student population, Mabe said.
“We don’t target one specific area more than the other,” Mabe said. “But the downtown landscape is very densely populated with bars. There are so many establishments that serve alcohol there. You might stop someone in North Austin, but you could probably trace their drinking history to downtown.”
Although APD made 54 DWI arrests last year during Halloweekend and 41 in 2015, Mabe said the numbers have never radically changed.
“These numbers are on pace with the years before,” Mabe said. “The annual rates might have 100 plus or minus, but that’s really a drop in the bucket. Halloweekend has never had a significant increase in DWI arrests in comparison to the holiday
weekends from the years before.”
William Mupo, University Health Services health promotion coordinator, said there are many different things students can do to increase safety during Halloweekend.
“Take the E-bus, Uber, Lyft or any other safe transportation methods if you’re drinking” Mupo said. “Stick with your friends, and come back as a group.”
Sherry Bell, UHS consumer education and outreach coordinator, said UHS will not have abnormal routines during Halloweekend.
“We don’t change our staffing and (don’t anticipate) large increases in student medical calls,” Bell said. “And we certainly don’t see increases to the extent of larger events like spring break and ACL weekends.”
Biochemistry sophomore Justin Varias said he chose to be the designated driver this weekend for his friends who are going out to celebrate Halloween.
“I think it’s very important to plan ahead of time while we have the choice,” Varias said. “You never know what can happen after a few drinks, so I want to make sure my friends stay safe.”